Brash. Fun. Totally underrated. And not at all ugly… or kids or indeed called Joe for that matter… the Californian rockers Ugly Kid Joe are back and uglying up the UK and beyond for the rest of 2016.
Gutted to miss Tropical Contact who switched places with Tim McMillan. We were not aiming to miss them but Sheffield's endless looping-back-on-itself traffic system is my arch nemesis. This does mean that we get to see the frankly amazing Tim McMillan and his wacky brand of acoustic playing. The loopiness continues from the roads as Tim plays virtuoso guitar (slapping, harmonics, all that jazz) while making an array of sounds with his mouth, singing very well and making jokes. He borrowed a man's glasses “to be able to see” to play his version of 'Enjoy The Silence' By Depeche Mode (The 'Rudy Denson' version, named after a guy at school who was the bees knees, flowing blonde locks, shredded guitar whilst riding a surfboard etc). It's more than a bit good! Jaw-droppingly good in fact.
We are made to hold an imaginary kangaroo skull and roar, and clap on and off on demand (Tim's from Melbourne as you can tell from his strong accent). It's a great show, shame it's a bit quiet as there are people talking loudly at the back and the sounds of Less Than Jake and The Skints leaking through the walls from the main room.
Ugly kid Joe pull no punches, after an instrumental intro Whitfield Crane joins the guys on stage to blast into 'Neighbour'. There's a fine mix of old tunes from debut album 'America's Least Wanted', 'Menace To Sobriety' and last years release 'Uglier Than They Used To Be'. They chose to leave 'Motel California' alone, probably wise as it was the last before their split.
The band are in hi jinx mode, getting the packed room to raise hands and sway arms on more than one occasion, even those working the bar. There's a funny moment with feedback, where the sounds could be coming from anywhere, and the crowd make the same sound altogether, leading Whitfield to state "We're fucking magic!"
They have a new guitarist in the form of Chris Catalyst, a talented hard working local lad (read that also as 'lucky bugger') who as well as spending time helping bands featuring members of The Wildhearts has played axe in The Scaramanga Six, Robochrist, The Dead Pets, The Sisters Of Mercy and Mariachi El Bronx (who are also playing in the same building tonight). It appears that at every city UKJ play in Chris has to play a solo song from that place, tonight he starts with a Pulp riff but quickly changes it to the Human League's 'Don't You Want Me' with full crowd participation, much to the rest of the bands amusement.
Harry Chapin's 'Cats In The Cradle' obviously gets a huge response, as does the shows end tune 'Everything About You', but there's loads for true fans here. 'Panhandlin' Prince' and 'Goddamn Devil' are on a par with the former tracks, and with much more sneering to suit their name and attitude. 'Come Tomorrow' is a great example of the 90's rock sound and one of my all time favourites.
The encore takes it down a notch for an acoustic duet with Whitfield and Tim McMillan performing 'Cloudy Skies', and then the fan request for guitarist Klaus Eichstadt (wearing bonza long Charlie Brown socks) and bassist Cordell Crockett brings said fan onstage to perform 'Mr Recordman', another belter. It's back into the hard stuff though with a rousing rendition of Motorhead's 'Ace Of Spades' from these mega fans of Lemmy, followed by 'VIP'.
The band are coming back for a few more dates in November after a visit to Europe, so plenty of chance to catch them, which I strongly advise as they are such an underrated band it s crying shame. Plus, ya know, they are actually easy on the eye and ears.
Jesus Rode A Harley
She's Already Gone
No One Survives
Cats In The Cradle
So Damn Cool
Everything About You